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Duke Knocks Off Stubborn Wake Forest In Cameron

Wake Forest was tough, but fortunately Duke was tougher.

North Carolina v Duke
 DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA - MARCH 07: The Duke Blue Devils mascot performs during the first half of their game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Cameron Indoor Stadium on March 07, 2020 in Durham, North Carolina.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Duke welcomed Mike Krzyzewski back to the sidelines Saturday afternoon with a 79-68 win over Wake Forest.

The win keeps Duke undefeated in the ACC at 3-0 (5-2 overall), while dropping the Deacons to 0-3 and 3-3.

Krzyzewski said he got tested before 6 this morning and got the go-ahead around 8:30. He’s been tested every day for a week and consistently tested negative.

Krzyzewski added that his daughter Debbie and grand-daughter Emmie are still fighting COVID-19, “doing okay but not great.”

Back to basketball. D.J. Steward said Krzyzewski showed up for the pre-game shoot-around shortly after 9.

“He came in and the first thing he said was ‘Let’s go.’ He brought the energy.”

The Deacons have been more impacted by the pandemic than perhaps any other college program, going over a month without a game. In that difficult environment new coach Steve Forbes has cobbled together a team comprised of holdovers from Danny Manning’s tenure, incoming freshmen and transfers. And he’s somehow managed to stir the pot into a recipe that led at Virginia well into the second half earlier this week and stayed with Duke in Cameron for 30 minutes.

The first half was a back-and-forth affair. Matt Hurt scored Duke’s first seven points but the Deacons answered in kind. Duke led most of the half but never by very much. Duke’s biggest first-half lead was at 32-26, with 3:24 left in the half.

Wake closed to 34-33 but Steward closed the first-half scoring with an old-fashioned three-point play and Duke went into the locker room up 37-33.

Steward said the halftime message focused on getting stops.

“Coach K told us at halftime we have to dig deep, dig deep right now and lock in defensively and everything else will fall in place.”

It took a few minutes for Duke to execute that message. Wake took its last lead at 45-44 and tied the game at 49, 52 and 55.

The decisive break started with another three-point play by Steward, making the score 58-55, with 11:25 left.

That go-ahead basket came on an offensive rebound, one of 15 offensive rebounds by Duke.

“That was a key for us coming into the game,” Hurt said of Duke’s rebounding prowess. “Just trying to read the angles, where the ball is going to drop to, just reading that and going up with two hands, just fighting for the ball.”

Krzyzewski called Duke’s rebounding a “key to the game . . . , especially our perimeter rebounding.”

Hurt converted an offensive rebound to make it 64-57, Duke’s biggest lead of the game at that point. Meanwhile Duke held Wake Forest to four points in a decisive six-minute span.

Hurt ended with 26 points, six rebounds and three steals.

“I think he’s playing at a good pace,” Krzyzewski said of Hurt’s performance. “I like the fact that it’s more of a workmanlike performance for him. People are going to come at him, so when he touches the ball, our guys get a little bit more room.”

Steward was cold from outside, making only 1-of-7 from the arc. But he attacked the basket, hit the boards and scored in transition, making 7-of-8 on two-pointers, ending with 21 points and six rebounds.

“I just go out there and play hard and play off instincts,” he said. “I want to be a two-way player. I’m trying to get better every day on defense.”

Wendell Moore ended with only four points but led Duke with eight rebounds and drew praise from Krzyzewski for his rebounding and defense.

Davien Williamson and Ismael Massoud led Wake with 17 points each.

Duke outrebounded Wake 35-25.

It wasn’t a perfect game, by any means. Duke sent Wake to the foul line 21 times, while shooting only 10 free throws. Duke only got six points off the bench and Krzyzewski acknowledged that developing his bench is a priority. And Mark Williams again struggled, three turnovers in four minutes.

But Krzyzewski liked a lot of what he saw, especially the developing defensive skills of his freshmen, saying his youngsters have learned the system well enough that they’re acting more on instinct, calling that “the bridge you have to cross” to play Duke defense.


Much of Krzyzewski’s post-game focused on non-basketball events of the week. It’s beyond my purview to go too much into this and it will be all over the news. But Krzyzewski took a strong stand on Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol.

It was “a horrible day, an insurrection that went to the very fabric of this great country. . . . Congress has the responsibility of stepping forward.”

Everyone who was involved should be prosecuted and leaders chastised.

No names mentioned. But the subtext seemed apparent.

Krzyzewski also strongly criticized the COVID-19 response, angrily wondering how 16,000 Americans could die in four days this deep into the pandemic.


Player Of The Game vs. Wake Forest

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    Matthew Hurt
    (228 votes)
  • 0%
    Mark Williams
    (3 votes)
  • 19%
    DJ Steward
    (65 votes)
  • 0%
    Jeremy Roach
    (1 vote)
  • 9%
    Jordan Goldwire
    (32 votes)
  • 1%
    Wendell Moore
    (4 votes)
  • 0%
    Jaemyn Brakefield
    (3 votes)
  • 1%
    Joey Baker
    (5 votes)
341 votes total Vote Now